Yesterday 2 men found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 were sentenced at the Old Bailey, London to 'life' imprisonment. This was possible because UK law enshrines the principle of respect for human life and the 6th commandment "You shall no commit murder".
I am thankful that I live in a country that attempts to uphold such principles. I do not want to live in a country where the law attempts to distinguish between those whose lives are considered worth living and those whose lived should be ended, where a so-called 'right to die' could become a 'duty to die' or a duty to assist someone else to commit suicide.
I am totally opposed to any proposal to change the law in order to make assisted suicide legal, however carefully the legally parameters might be constructed. I see assisted suicide as murder, however compassionate the motives may be. I believe life to be a gift of God and it it not our prerogative to terminate that gift prematurely.
Having said that, I am only too well aware that life can become unbearable for some. The compassionate response to that should be to do everything possible (short of intentional murder) to relieve suffering, commit more resources to things like improved palliative care for the dying, better mental health provision. I do not want medical staff whose primary ethos is to save life, to be the people who could be required to provide drugs specifically in order to help their patients kill themselves.
I'm disappointed in the BBC whose headline today "Assisted Suicide: Strong Case for Legalisation" is rather misleading about the report of the Commission for Assisted Dying. The BBC's opening sentence refers to "a panel of experts", but this panel consisted of people in favour of a law-change, included no BMA representatives and is said to have been part-funded by Terry Pratchett and Dignity in Dying. So there is no way this is an impartial independent review into this very serious matter.
2 years ago, in March 2009 the Church of England produced a paper 'Assisted Dying/Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia' which is definitely worth a read and I support the arguments against put forward there. That position has been briefly restated today by a statement from the Bishop of Carlisle, written in response to the report of the Commission for Assisted Dying.
This is a highly complex matter and I haven't done justice to it here, so over to you. What do you think?